By Adam Ganucheau
The Daily Mississippian obtained a copy of the official record of the ASB Judicial Council‘s ruling that “Colonel Reb,” the title given to the the equivalent of “Mr. Ole Miss,” was unconstitutional. Current ASB officials have initiated an investigation into the process of the council’s ruling, and many people have expressed their opinions about the situation.
The Associated Student Body (ASB) Judicial Council ruled March 25 that the title “Colonel Reb,” the student-elected male counterpart of Miss Ole Miss, was unconstitutional. The council voted unanimously in favor of the decision, according to the official record of the council’s meeting, which was obtained by The DM Wednesday afternoon.
According to current ASB Vice President Morgan Gregory, a resolution regarding the use of “Colonel Reb” was submitted in an ASB Senate committee meeting March 5, but it did not pass out of the committee.
“The resolution was killed before it was available for a Senate vote because the ASB Senate Committee for Student Life believed that more student input was necessary,” Gregory said. “Specifically, (the Committee for Student Life) felt it was more important to accurately represent their constituency, the student body, than to rush the process. They wanted to conduct a survey to seek further input from the student body.”
Two weeks later, an anonymous complaint, which questioned the constitutionality of the “Colonel Reb” title, was filed in the Office of Student Conduct addressed to the Judicial Council on March 19.
“An anonymous complaint was filed, and the ASB Judicial Council took the appropriate steps to hear the complaint,” former ASB Judicial Chair Courtney Pearson, who presided over the ruling, said Tuesday night. “We followed the appropriate guidelines that we could have according to the most current codes and constitution.”
Pearson did not respond to multiple attempts to contact her Wednesday regarding the council’s exact motivation to amend policies recognizing the title of “Colonel Reb.” According to the council’s record, three sections of the ASB Code and Constitution were cited as justification to eliminate the title “Colonel Reb”: Article X, Section 7 and Article I, Sections 2 and 3 (all of which can be seen in the council’s official record published on the front page of today’s DM).
“I feel like the Senate was bypassed,” newly elected ASB President Greg Alston said. “As an ASB senator, I would have felt like somebody went behind my back. That is something that happened without a lot of people knowing. A lot of the members of my cabinet did not find out about it until the meeting last night, which I don’t think was right.”
The Judicial Council’s decision is final, according to current ASB Attorney General Rob Pillow. However, an investigation into the way it was handled by the Judicial Council is under way. Pillow addressed concerns about how the Judicial Council ruling came about and stated that there are some flaws in the current ASB Constitution and Code, which does not directly address procedures involving anonymous complaints to the Judicial Council.
“We are looking at the legality of the process which was used, not the decision,” Pillow told The DM Wednesday. “Additionally, we need to address an anonymous submission. This is something that has not come up before, and something that, as a student body, we need to address.”
Pillow said that if the Judicial Council’s process of making the ruling did not follow guidelines set forth in Title III, Section 101: Rule 7 in the ASB Constitution, then the council’s “Colonel Reb” title ruling would be “null and void.” There is no set timetable on the completion of the investigation.
The council’s ruling was signed by Pearson on the night of March 25, the night before the new ASB officers were inaugurated and her last official night as ASB judicial chair. Questions were raised about the timing of the decision.
“Regardless of how you feel about the decision itself, it should not be made behind closed doors at the last minute by the outgoing members of the Judicial Council,” former ASB Attorney General Matthew Kiefer and former ASB Deputy Attorney General for Code and Constitution Pierce Lee wrote in a letter about the council’s ruling.
Current and former ASB officials expressed their thoughts Wednesday about the decision.
“I’ve never heard of an anonymous complaint,” Alston said. “To know that this resolution didn’t even pass through a committee on the Senate, which means it wouldn’t have even been brought to the Senate floor and wasn’t voted on … that doesn’t sound right to me.”
Former ASB President Kimbrely Dandridge had different thoughts on the situation.
“I really just wish that whoever submitted the complaint would come forward, have a voice and admit it,” she said. “Pearson is getting all the blame even though she followed the procedures.”
Many students and alumni voiced their thoughts on Twitter Tuesday night and Wednesday about the ruling.
Twitter user Dillon Young (@DillonYoung17) tweeted: “I propose cutting down the Grove. The trees affect my allergies… We can just handle this behind closed doors, right? #ColReb @thedm_news.”
Twitter user Will Scott (@ole_phiboy) offered a differing opinion: “Just because its “tradition” doesn’t mean it’s right #ColReb #thelottery.”
The “Colonel Reb” mascot was removed by the university administration under former Chancellor Robert Khayat in 2003. Many people had differing opinions about the administration’s decision, much like the Judicial Council’s recent ruling on the title of “Colonel Reb.” Unlike the mascot decision made in 2003, the recent Judicial Council’s ruling was out of the hands of current Ole Miss Chancellor Dan Jones and the university administration.
“This is an issue that involves the ASB government and the students of Ole Miss,” Ole Miss Dean of Students Sparky Reardon said. “It is a decision that was made, and if students have concerns about that, I recommend they approach student leaders to discuss the process (by which the ruling was made).”
News editors Grant Beebe and Molly Yates contributed to this article.